Film Review: Don't Kill It

A peripatetic demon turns a small town into a slaughterhouse in this brisk and very bloody supernatural thriller.
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Chickory Creek is a quiet little Missouri town…well, it was, until a hunter runs across a metal container with a body-hopping demon trapped inside.

Next thing you know, the demon embarks on a consecutive series of killing sprees. Every time some unfortunate someone brings down a possessed murderer, the demon moves into the person who did the killing. Men, women, children—no one is immune.

Local law enforcement, headed by lackadaisical Chief Dunham (Tony Bentley), calls in the FBI, in the comely form of Agent Evelyn Pierce (Kristina Klebe). She, by divine chance, happens to be a local girl, albeit one with a dark history that caused her family to hoof it for less superstitious parts when she was just a girl. Fortunately for Pierce, a long, lean drink of water in an old-school duster, Jebediah Woodley (Dolph Lundgren) by name, invites himself to the party. Jebediah is a demon hunter, just like his late daddy. And comes with a cool collection of demon-hunting tools…none of which goes down especially well with Chickory Creek's "very Christian" community, particularly Pastor Erikson (James Chalke) and the sweet local lady who blurts out a very unchristian "WTF?" when Chief Dunham lays out the situation at a hastily called town-hall meeting.

Longtime genre fans will detect a faint echo of 1987's The Hidden in Don't Kill It's daisy chain of possession, but writers Dan Berk and Robert Olsen (both of whom were also co-producers) add a nice touch of snark without ever pushing the film into flat-out horror-comedy territory (though the scene in which Woodley's arsenal in inventoried by the local cops comes close when they get to the whip accessorized with shrunken heads). While never a hugely expressive actor, Lundgren steps surprisingly gracefully into the role of new sheriff in a 21st-century town where his brand of demon talk doesn't jibe with their less medieval brand of religious observance. Even Pastor Erikson sounds more pissed off than shaken to his soul when he briefly splashes Jebediah with holy water and chants "The power of Christ compels you," to which the demon hunter gruffly indicates that quoting from The Exorcistisn't what the current situation requires.

Don't Kill It is a trifle, but it's briskly directed by Mike Mendez, and with “The Walking Dead”'s Robert Kurtzman heading up the makeup-effects department, it's impressively—one might even say gleefully—gory. And it's sequel-ready if fans decide they want more of Jebediah.

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